The Feminist Majority Foundation held its 11th annual Global Women’s Rights Awards ceremony to honor America Ferrera, Amy Brenneman, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on Monday at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles.
“When I started acting I was just a kid with a talent and a dream. I never set out to represent people,” said Ferrera, who received an award for empowering the Latino Community.
The actress told the room that she was thrust into the role of an activist early in her career. She remembered when she received a positive response from women in her community after her first film role in “Real Women Have Curves.”
“I realized the power of seeing ourselves, being shown our own potential as women, as people of color and as people of disadvantaged backgrounds,” Ferrera added.
The actress, who wrote a manifesto defending the Latino community against presidential hopeful Donald Trump last year, said that “it was life changing to know what I love to do had the potential to be a tool for helping other people find their voices.”
Kate Walsh presented Brenneman with her award, which saluted her fight for abortion rights. While accepting the honor, “The Leftovers” actress encouraged others to speak up about the issue.
“The vast majority of Americans who believe in women’s right to choose need to get noisier,” said Brenneman.
The Feminist Majority Foundation also honored Mayor Weaver for her work solving the water crisis in Flint. The foundation additionally gifted her with $50,000 to assist with water restoration in the City of Flint. Mlambo-Ngcuka received her award for leading the fight for gender equality across the globe in her role at the UN.
Jay Leno opened the ceremony with jokes in his old late-night flair. He made wise cracks at a vast array of pop culture figures, including former presidential candidate Marco Rubio and Caitlyn Jenner.
“They said Marco Rubio is the smartest in the Republican race. That’s like being the smartest Kardashian,” Leno quipped.
The award ceremony included a dinner, panel discussion and guest speakers, such as Curtis Armstrong and Jason George.